TMEP 1402.12: Parentheses and Brackets Should Not be Used in Identifications of Goods and Services

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1402.12    Parentheses and Brackets Should Not be Used in Identifications of Goods and Services

Generally, parentheses and brackets should not be used in identifications of goods and services. The Post Registration Section of the USPTO uses single square brackets to indicate that goods/services have been deleted from a registration either by amendment under 15 U.S.C. §1057, filing of a partial affidavit of continued use under 15 U.S.C. §1058 or 15 U.S.C. §1141k, or filing of a partial renewal application under 15 U.S.C. §1059. The Post Registration Section also uses double parentheses to indicate that certain goods or services are not claimed in an affidavit of incontestability under 15 U.S.C. §1065. See TMEP Chapter 1600 regarding affidavits of continued use or excusable nonuse, renewal applications, affidavits of incontestability, and amendment of registrations.

Therefore, to avoid confusion, applicants should not use parentheses and brackets in the identification of goods or services in an application. The only time parentheses may be used in an identification is when the parentheses merely explain or translate the matter preceding the parenthetical phrase in such a way that it does not affect the clarity of the identification.

For example, “bags (tote)” in Class 18 would not be an acceptable use of parentheses. If the identification were misinterpreted to mean that “tote” was no longer part of the identification of goods (due to an amendment of the goods or filing of a partial affidavit of continued use or renewal application), the item would merely read “bags.” That would create an ambiguity within Class 18, since it could refer to any type of bag – from an all-purpose sports bag to an evening bag – and it would make a determination of likelihood of confusion difficult. Also, some bags are in classes other than Class 18. Without an indication of the type of bag, classification of the goods is problematic.

However, an identification of goods such as “obi (Japanese sash)” in Class 25 would be acceptable because the parenthetical phrase merely provides further information about the goods.